NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: St Ives Town skipper is spot-on to secure vital victory in basement battle

St Ives Town captain Robbie Parker hit the winner from the penalty spot. Picture: DUNCAN LAMONT

St Ives Town captain Robbie Parker hit the winner from the penalty spot. Picture: DUNCAN LAMONT - Credit: Archant

It was a case of better late than never for St Ives Town yesterday.

The local club's basement battle against Redditch in the Southern League Premier Division Central was delayed due to the late arrival of the Midlands visitors.

They encountered even more issues on the A14 than when attempting to play any sort of easy-on-the-eye football on a Westwood Road pitch that resembled a beach in one place and a swamp in several others.

That is certainly no slight on groundsman Gareth Chapman who worked tirelessly to ensure the surface passed an early-morning inspection and was then able to soak up the contents of an almighty downpour just before lunchtime.

Both teams made the best of it in a mud a thunder clash which was predictably tight and ultimately settled in favour of the hosts.

A 2-1 victory for Saints, which was eventually secured by captain Robbie Parker's penalty with 12 minutes to go, launched them out of the dreaded drop-zone.

Whether or not it provides a platform for a surge to survival remains to be seen, but it was certainly a vital step in the right direction as they approach the halfway point of a difficult season.

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Saints wasted no time in hitting the front thanks to another stunning entry into Ben Seymour-Shove's collection of spectacular goals in crucial games.

The wideman seized on a loose ball and unleashed a terrific strike from fully 30 yards which flew past full-stretch Redditch keeper Kieran Boucher in the third minute.

But Saints' wonderfully hit opener - which was worthy of a considerably more grand stage and deserved to be viewed by a much larger audience - was soon followed by a woefully conceded leveller.

Redditch dangerman Gratias Katega was treated to the freedom of Westwood Road when charging down the right and delivering a low cross which was tucked away on the turn by striker James Lucas with the aid of a slight deflection on its way past keeper Finley Iron.

Matt Foy skied a glorious chance to restore the advantage when firing over from close range before a goalbound Ben Toseland free-kick was parried away by a flying Boucher.

Seymour-Shove then failed to get hold of another decent opportunity on the stroke of half-time after Foy had slipped a pass through the static Redditch defence.

At the other end, Iron bravely blocked a Rhys Hilton effort at point-blank range before being fortunate to see a swirling Katega cross bounce against the top of the crossbar.

Iron also pulled off a smart save from Katega while the sides were still deadlocked in the second period, but it was Saints who posed considerably more threat.

Ben Jackson was unfortunate to see his snap-shot from a corner fly straight into the grateful arms of Boucher before substitute Dylan Wilson was millimetres away from making a major impact as he slammed a superb Seymour-Shove cross against the bar.

But there was a mixture of relief and delight as Saints did succeed in finding the net again with 12 minutes to go.

There are few more trusty penalty takers than Parker and the skipper coolly converted to from the spot after defender Alfie Powell was clumsily upended in the box.

And thankfully Saints' worrying habit of leaking late goals didn't rear it's ugly head again as they saw out the remainder of the contest with relatively few alarms to jump out of the drop-zone.

Now the challenge is to stay there . . .